Why Love Is Immortal
The symposium presents a set of cases for love. Different views of love are being expressed, in a variety of ways to think. In comparing Diotima’s influenced Socrates’ views on love and Pausanias’ views we find two completely different ways of thinking. Diotima seems to make a much stronger case and many would agree that she might have even just made the best case for love on the night. Although Pausanias thinks of love in more direct realistic way, it seems to be too narrow minded and flat. Pausanian Puts love in a perspective of man and women.
The sexual attraction, which we find as lust, is referred to as common love, while love as we know based on deep attractions, going beyond the physical aspect, rather a connect coming from the soul is referred to as heavenly love. In a different direction points Diotima her argument for love. She looks at love as a desire, an innate need for achieving things. She points out happiness as a key, wether it be one’s own happiness or someone that they care for happiness, it’s the same concept. Immortality, the desire to forever live through something.
Physically through reproduction, or mentally through learning and education. She sees everyone as a lover, anyone who takes any action in seek of immortality is a lover. In the symposium, Socrates informs the guests that he had sought out Diotima of Mantinea for her knowledge. Diotima then asks Socrates why Love is love of beautiful things or of loving good things. Socrates replies that Love is the desire for things to become one’s own so that one will be happy. Diotima put love in the simplest for she possibly can, “In a word, then love is wanting to possess the good forever” (pg 52).
It seems that Socrates agrees with Diotima that everyone always wants good things and happiness to be theirs forever. They explain that, in fact, everyone is a lover, but we only call certain people lovers. We only seem to call a certain “class of people” lovers. This is similar to the fact that while everyone who creates an articular picture is an artist, even in such cases as sports, but we would only call those who create music “Artists. ” Similarly, Diotima sees a drive for immortality in our search for love, she says “it follows from our argument that love must desire immortality” (pg 54).
She suggests that Alcestis and Achilles would not have died for their lovers had they not known their heroism would be immortalized. Suggesting any action we take is seeking immortality, there for love is the seeking of one peace of mind, happiness. She goes on, and decides to call a man reproducing through wisdom and teachings “pregnant in the mind. ” There are two ways men can become pregnant she explains: in body and mind. “It is giving birth in beauty whether in body or soul,” she states. Those who are “pregnant in body” seek out women with whom they can reproduce and create a successor.
Those who are “pregnant in mind” such as a lover of wisdom, and by doing so one will give birth to intellectual children of greater immortality than any conceived through procreation. Bringing forth not bodies, but wisdom and other virtues. While Diotima makes the case for love being the desire of immortality, and that we’re all lovers, Pausanias brings up an interesting way to think about Love. He explains that love can be broken down into two types, that of Common and Heavenly love. The common love, or what we would call lust, that when a man and a woman join merely to satisfy their sexual desires.
On the other hand the heavenly love, what we would label as “real” love which is the type that occurs when two people are attracted to each other with a strong bond that goes past the sexual desire, instead comes from deep within as if from the soul. Lust or the common love was looked at in the symposium as dirty and immoral. He uses the term vulgar saying “these vulgar lovers are the people who have given love such a bad reputation that some have gone so far as to claim that taking any man as lover is in itself disgraceful. ” (pg 15) This was the type of love filthy with sin “since all they care about is completing the sexual act. Further explanations suggest that this is due to strong sexual attraction that is produced from only desiring the physical body rather the heart or soul. An example of this common love was thought to be in the younger Aphrodite born from Zeus and one of his many mistresses. The younger Aphrodite was believed to be a symbol of lust since Zeus did not create this child with his wife. It makes sense that out of such an affair full of lust and desire of the body that a child such as Aphrodite would be born and form a symbol of the strong lust that her parents had for each other.
As there was an Aphrodite born out of lust it was also believed that another Aphrodite existed this time it was believed to be a goddess of love, the complete opposite of the lust created Aphrodite. He states “but since there are actually two goddesses of that name there are also two kinds of love. ” (pg 13) This other Aphrodite was born before Zeus and was most likely the goddess that Phaedrus spoke of in his speech. The older Aphrodite was conceived through pure love therefor was labeled as the heavenly love. This is the same god that Phaedrus believes should have be praised and honored above all other gods.
As I’ve previously mentioned both arguments are intriguing, and are well thought out. In evaluating over all who has made a better case for their definition for love, it seems as if Diotima made a better case considering the big picture of love and found an interesting internal motive for love which is immortality. On the other hand Pausanias seems to be more focused on what does love make one do and what is the perfect picture for love. He makes the case that “Love is not himself noble and worthy of praise; that depends on whether the sentiments he produces in us are themselves noble. ” (pg 15)